The Best Essential Oils for Stress Relief and Deep Relaxation – Live Well Zone

essential oils to relieve stress neroli

In many ways, reducing stress and tension is an art form that requires a holistic approach. And one aspect of that holistic approach is using essential oils to relieve stress.

Essential oil therapy (also known as aromatherapy) is based on the idea that Smells have a direct impact on our mood.

Yes, nothing surprising there, right?

After all, different scents can trigger memories of grandma’s kitchen, an ex-spouse’s cologne, or a previous vacation.

And depending on how we feel about those memories, our mood can change instantly.

So since our bodies have such a strong and measurable reaction to odors, it’s not surprising that essential oils can help us get through stressful days.

That’s why this post is about essential oils you can use to reduce stress, induce relaxation, and create a greater sense of tranquility.

Let’s do it!

Note: This post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase.


When you inhale an essential oil, two main things happen almost simultaneously:

  • The olfactory system is stimulated. This system is made up of all the organs (such as the nose) and cells that are related to our sense of smell.
  • He limbic system (also known as the emotional brain) wakes up.

The limbic system is crucial for the functioning of essential oils because it is connected to the parts of the brain that regulate:

  • stress levels
  • memory
  • heart rate
  • blood pressure
  • Breathing frequency
  • hormones

Given this interconnectedness, it is not surprising that essential oils can make us feel less stress and also reduce stress hormones like cortisol.


Now that we’ve had a quick overview of how essential oils work, let’s look at 10 essential oils to reduce stress.

1. Clary sage

Clary Sage is an essential oil that induces a general feeling of calm and clarity.

It is also a powerful stress reliever and just inhaling this oil can reduce cortisol (the main stress hormone) by 36% (fountain).

In addition, sage also:

  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves depression and anxiety
  • increases brain function by improving alertness and memory

2. Bergamot

Bergamot is a citrus oil with a very refreshing and uplifting aroma.

And a 2015 scientific review of various studies on bergamot oil concluded that this oil may be “helpful in reducing the effects of anxiety and stress.”

Furthermore, bergamot also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pain.

Experiencing less physical can also have a positive effect on overall stress levels.


Ylang ylang contains a compound called linalool, which is said to have stress-reducing properties.

In fact, research done on rats shows that linalool not only reduces stress, but also has antidepressant effects and improves social anxiety.

Additionally, studies confirm that ylang ylang works well whether inhaled or applied to the skin.

4. Neroli

Inhalation of neroli oil can make the brain release more serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and also reduce cortisol.

And just like the other oils we’ve seen, neroli has anti-anxiety and antidepressant abilities (fountain).

5. Marjoram

Marjoram has a calming and sedative effect that makes it beneficial for both stress and anxiety.

It also has a balancing effect that allows it to increase feelings of happiness when you are feeling angry or sad.

6. Lavender

Like ylang ylang, lavender contains linalool, which is one of the main compounds that makes lavender great for stressful times.

According to the Journal of Natural MedicineLavender oil is effective in managing everyday stress, anxiety, and depression.

Additionally, the journal states that oral supplementation (at 80 mg daily) may be similar to or even superior to the use of benzodiazepines (prescription tranquilizers).

7. myrrh

Myrrh essential oil stimulates various parts of the brain, including the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (fountain).

The hypothalamus is the master gland that controls everything related to our hormones.

As for the pituitary, it is second in command.

The pituitary receives messages from the hypothalamus and then communicates with other organs, such as the adrenal glands (which produce cortisol).

Therefore, myrrh can positively impact the pathway that regulates stress and stress hormones in the body.

8. Incense

Research done with rats shows that frankincense oil can counter the negative side effects of stress.

More specifically, frankincense can improve sleep quality and help the body maintain its antioxidant levels (which typically decline as stress increases).

9. Chamomile

Chamomile is a mild tranquilizer that is best known for inducing a sense of calm and relaxation.

A 2011 review of chamomile as an herbal medicine states that inhalation of chamomile oil is recommended to relieve anxiety and general depression.

Furthermore, the review notes that inhalation of chamomile oil reduces the stress-induced rise in ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone).

Now, ACTH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which then activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol.

So by regulating ACTH, chamomile helps the body modulate its response to stress.

10. pink

Studies show that applying rose oil to the skin results in improved levels of several stress-related markers, including:

  • cortisol
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing frequency

Additionally, study participants also report that rose oil makes them feel more relaxed.


where to apply essential oils to relieve stress and how to use them with diffuser

When it comes to relieving stress with essential oils, you can use them topically (apply to skin or use in bathwater) or diffuse.

When it comes to topical use, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Always dilute oils in a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, or coconut oil. This minimizes the risk of burns or irritation. Use my essential oil guide dilution guide for more details.
  • If your stress is accompanied by headaches, oils like lavender and chamomile are good options. Massage the diluted oil on the temples, neck and chest.
  • When using essential oils in a bath, always dilute them. One of the easiest ways is to mix 5 to 20 drops of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of liquid Castile soap. Then add this mixture to your bath water.

Now, when it comes to diffusing essential oils, here are some stress-reducing blends to use.

Blend #1

3 drops of incense

2 drops of ylang-ylang

2 drops of rose

Blend #2

2 drops each lavender, ylang ylang, marjoram, chamomile

Blend #3

2 drops each lavender, ylang ylang, frankincense, and sage

essential oils to relieve stress rose oil pin


In addition to using essential oils, there are many other natural remedies that you can use to reduce stress.

Here are a few to consider adding to your routine.

Coloring book for adults

Coloring books are a simple and fun way to teach your mind to focus on one thing (a rarity in our busy, multitasking world).

By concentrating on one thing, you feel less hectic and more calm, while creating something fun and colorful!

walking meditation

The next time you’re out for a walk, leave your headphones and other distractions behind.

Instead, notice how the air feels against your skin, the sound of your footsteps, and the natural sounds around you.

It doesn’t matter what those natural sounds are: birds on a nature trail or cars honking on a busy street.

Just being truly present with the sights and sounds of the present moment can help take a load off your shoulders.

Slow down your exhalations

When we exhale at a slower rate than the inhalation, it is very relaxing to the nervous system.

And more specifically, it calms the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (which deals with things like rest and sleep).

Since exhalations are responsible for activating the parasympathetic system, extending those exhalations can create a greater sense of calm.

So, find 5-10 minutes of quiet time and practice this simple technique:

  • Inhale counting to 2 (or 3 or 4)
  • Exhale counting to 4 (or 6 or 8)


Sometimes you just need to disconnect from everything.

Friends, family, your insta feed, the news…

If you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, take a half day, full day, or whole weekend away from it all.

You will notice that the world keeps turning, the sun keeps shining and you feel less tense!


What essential oils are good for sleep?

Vetiver, cedarwood, geranium, lavender, and jasmine are some of the essential oils that are good for sleep.

To learn more about these oils and get 20 blends you can use, read this post on essential oil diffuser recipes for sleep.

How to know if essential oils are pure?

The only way to know for sure that your oils are pure is to have them tested by a third-party lab that specializes in essential oil testing.

As a consumer, you can also buy from brands that provide GCMS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) reports. Please note that while GCMS tests are an industry standard, they are not always 100% foolproof. There are other tests that are more accurate and detailed than a GCMS test.

But as a consumer, the only proof of quality you can get your hands on is a GCMS. And there are online resources you can use to learn how to read those tests if you want to dig deeper.

Can you mix eucalyptus and lavender oil?

Yes, lavender and eucalyptus mix well and can be very helpful for headaches and sore throats.


Eliminating all stress from our lives is impossible.

However, we can improve the way we react to that stress and how that stress affects us with the help of essential oils.

As with all holistic methods, essential oils work best when used consistently and in combination with other lifestyle changes.

For more ways to reduce stress, be sure to check out my collection of self-care items.

I hope this post was helpful and if you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below!

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Essential oils for hormone balance

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